The beauty of Cornish Game Hens is that they are quite small, tender, and very flavorful. One hen with side dishes is a great meal for 2 people. I almost always spatchcock a game hen, marinate it, and grill it outside over an open flame when the weather is nice. This method of preparing fowl is quite nice. However, the skin can burn easily and the meat can dry out if you do not pay attention to the bird and the fire. Enter a George Foreman Contact Grill.
I was a little skeptical about trying to grill an entire bird on a GF grill. I was most worried that the skin would char and the interior might not cook through. I found that a GF basic grill is ideal because it cooks the hen top and bottom at the same temperature. And, you still get some grill marks and a slight char on the skin.
You really must spatchcock the hen for the best results. Spatchcocking is a technique of preparing the hen by removing the backbone with poultry shears, turning the bird over, and pressing the breast bone flat with the heels of your hands. You will hear a little crack. This preparation assures that the bird will lay flat and cook more evenly. Here is a step-by-step tutorial for spatchcocking poultry. Oh, and save that backbone for making stock.
I have prepared one recipe for Cornish Game Hen on a George Foreman Grill. It is a take on a Tuscan style grilled chicken with a basic lemon and herb marinade. Feel free to go wild with your marinade. You can go with a teriyaki glaze, a barbeque sauce, or even an orange & honey glaze. I am a bit antsy when it comes to clean-up. I like to do it as soon as the food comes off the grill. Sweet marinades have a tendency to harden on the grill plates. I like the simplicity of the marinade in this recipe for both flavor and grill maintenance. I can quickly clean the hot grill while the hen is resting. If you are less high-maintenance than I am, then go for it with the flavors you enjoy most.
Grilled Lemon & Herb Cornish Game Hen
- 1 to 2 lb Cornish Game Hen
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
Total time: 33 min – Prep time: 15 min + marinating time – Cook time: 18 min – Serves: 2 people
1. Remove the giblets from the hen’s cavity and save for making stock. Spatchcock the bird by removing the backbone with kitchen shears. Save the bone for stock as well. Turn the hen over and flatten the breast bone with the heels of your hands until you hear a crack. Tuck the wing tips under the breasts.
2. In a glass baking dish, large enough to hold the flattened hen, mix together the lemon juice, EVOO, herbs, salt, and pepper. Place the hen in the marinade and flip several times to coat the entire bird. Set this aside for an hour. You want the game hen to be at room temperature prior to grilling. If you need more time, cover the dish with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Take it out at least 30 minutes before you heat up the grill.
3. Preheat your GF contact grill to high.
4. Place the game hen, skin side up, on the grill and close the top. Grill for 10 minutes. Open the grill and flip the hen over. Grill for another 8 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 170°F in the thigh.
5. Set the grilled hen on a cutting board to rest for at least 10 minutes. This is a good time to clean your grill.
6. Simply cut the hen in half through the breast bone and serve with side dishes. Side suggestions follow.
I like to think of Cornish Hens as a tasty and affordable alternative to other gamer birds. They lend themselves nicely to a seasonal fall menu. For this reason, I recommend pairing grilled game hens with hardy grain or winter squash dishes that are seasoned with plenty of herbs and amped up with autumn fruits and nuts.
Wild and Brown Rice Pilaf with Cranberries and Pecans
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 TBS unsalted butter
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1/2 cup wild rice
- 1/2 cup short-grain brown rice
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Total time: 45 min – Prep time: 10 min – Cook time: 35 min – Serves: 2 to 4 people
1. Rinse the rice very well to remove any dust. Heat the butter gently on medium in a saucepot until it melts. Add the shallot and rice. Stir to coat and heat through until the mixture starts smell slightly toasted or nutty.
2. Turn the heat to high and add the broth. Bring this to a rolling simmer. Add the salt, pepper, and thyme. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes until all the broth has evaporated and the rice is tender. Immediately stir in the cranberries with a fork and allow this to sit off the heat for approximately 5 to 10 minutes until the berries have softened.
3. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the parsley and toasted pecans. Serve with your grilled game hen.